Weihua Shao used her Friday Stories event to inspire games students and professionals about the opportunities available to Swedish developers in China. We asked her to offer a few more insights for anyone who missed her April workshop. Knowledgeable and experienced in both the Chinese and Swedish markets, Weihua has two ideas for how Swedish developers can raise their game in her home country.
Born and raised in China, Weihua Shao first came to Sweden as part of a trade delegation looking for investment opportunities. That’s when she discovered Sweden’s thriving games industry and the community in Malmö, in particular. She’s now been working in business development and investor relations in games for four years.
Her work bridging the gap between investors and game developers in Sweden continues at Nordic Game Ventures, which invests exclusively in unlisted early-stage game development and games ecosystem SMEs in the Nordic region.
As part of her wide-ranging role, she helps organize The Games Capital Summit. This event introduces carefully selected entrepreneurs to investors across the US, Europe, and Asia. The event has been a success for investors looking for lucrative partnerships with new developers and for studios searching for the finance they need to realize their vision.
For Weihua, this event, like Friday Stories, is a way for her to contribute to a games industry that has embraced her and her cross-cultural perspective. As she explains, “I really love the Swedish knowledge-sharing culture. People are very open to me here and share knowledge with me. So, I’m very happy to help them.”
Indie studios should get to grips with the business side of games
In the world of indie games development, creative energy, original thinking, and passion go a long way. Getting a game to market and promoting it, however, requires much more. Weihua observes that business management and marketing is often overlooked as an important part of success in the games industry.
“Indie studios can start with just one artist and one programmer, so their knowledge about the business and financial side of things is limited. I strongly suggest that they get involved in this early. In Sweden, you have support everywhere. When you engage in those games communities, you can join workshops or similar to learn how to develop your business.”
There’s also enormous value in learning from studios further along the development process to finance their games. Weihua suggests that “indie companies involve themselves in expos and conferences because it’s worth taking time to learn about how it works in this industry.”
For example, during The Games Capital Summit, attendees can receive feedback from investors. By learning what works and what doesn’t work, “aspiring developers can be better prepared for their own experience.”
A dedicated resource is needed to help indie studios reach Chinese audiences
New regulations around mobile games licensing in China will make it almost impossible for mobile game developers to self-publish in China, specifically premium mobile games or mobile games with IAP. For mobile developers, success relies on the right publisher. And for Steam games, it’s about communicating directly with players to build community.
How is that possible with so many barriers? There’s the language, of course, and nuanced cultural differences that should be taken seriously. Additionally, the media universe in China is prohibitively complex. There are hundreds of relevant digital media outlets and social media platforms that are hugely varied and specialized, in addition to influencer networks that demand detailed local knowledge.
Weihua suggests the creation of a national agency or association that works on behalf of indie studios to clarify and streamline communications in the Chinese market. By centralizing this knowledge and processes, Sweden’s indie studios could engage an otherwise out-of-reach player base. They’d know the right platforms to prioritize and how to optimize the content on each one to reach their target demographic in China. The result? Access to huge audiences and in a time and cost-effective way. For advertisers and media professionals in China, this organization would mean a single contact point to introduce Sweden’s indie developers, their products, and innovations.
Although some Swedish companies are operating successfully in China, their success has come at a cost that is out of scope for small developers. A new solution is required.
Join us for the next Friday Stories. Discover who is speaking and how you can get involved.